Customer Service Tip of the Week

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Of Carly Simon and Corey Feldman - 12/4/18


Anticipation. It's a fine song by Carly Simon. She talks about how it (anticipation) is making her late, and it is keeping her waiting. The song is also the theme for the cheesy Corey Feldman 1970s Heinz Ketchup commercial. But that definition of “Anticipation” talks about the Read more

Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve - 11/27/18


It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view. Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may Read more

No Matter How You Say It, Say Thanks! - 11/20/18


Gracias. Grazie. Gratias tibi. Obrigado. Tack. Merci. Danke. Thank You. No matter how you say it, say it. Say Thank You. You can say Thank You in many different languages (shout out to Google Translate for what's written above!). You can say it Read more

Why to Become an Empathy Expert - 11/13/18


People who are great at customer service, understand that one of their most important attributes, one that is a must, is the ability to empathize with others. People want to be understood. They want to be heard. And before you can meet their need or address their feelings or Read more

Love is never having to say you’re sorry - 11/6/18


Love Story – great movie. Alli McGraw. Ryan O’Neal. And a surprisingly poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but I digress. The most famous line from the movie is “Love is never having to say you’re sorry…” Unfortunately, great customer service isn’t about love, per se. Read more

Words that Convey You Care - 10/30/18


Of course you care about your customer and your co-worker. You wouldn’t be reading these tips, trying to learn and improve, if you didn’t care. But sometimes that caring doesn't get translated based on the words that we may use. So, we're going to walk through 3 Read more

Execute at a High Level - 10/23/18


The football coach was in the midst of a season where his team had not won a game. After a recent loss, the head coach entered his press conference. One of the reporters asked a simple question: What do you think of your team’s execution? The head coach Read more

Be the Culture - 10/16/18


As a customer service consultant, I am often in situations with clients where we're trying to figure out how to deliver a better experience to the customer. It might be an effort undertaken to retain more clients and grow the top line. It may be an effort to streamline Read more

When it’s – Truly – Not Your Fault – 6/12/18

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Jennie was under fire. She was the first line of defense – the front-line worker in the software firm. She didn’t make the software. She didn’t cause it to have errors. She wasn’t the one apparently avoiding the biggest customer’s calls.

Yet, here she was – dealing with the issue, the anger, the emotion of the customer, and it was truly NOT her fault.

This is when you could have one of a number of urges – you can argue, you can ameliorate (an underrated word!), you can obfuscate (nice SAT word!), you can empathize, or you can throw your co-worker or company “under the bus.”

This is the time to hold back on that last urge – don’t take down a co-worker to take down the customer’s emotion. This is when that phrase “you have to be the bigger person” comes into play. The best response to a customer situation is not always what we’d prefer to do. The best response is often not the easiest. The best response isn’t always painless in the short-term.

The best response – when it’s truly not your fault – starts before you get into the technique, the wording, the engagement with the customer. The best response starts before you respond to them – it starts with how you decide to handle yourself.

It’s a matter of having the conscious thought that “It’s not about me. Let me do what’s best for the customer and the company. Let me focus on others – not focusing on who’s to blame (or not to blame, in this case).”

It’s a mindset and a realization that – yes – you have to be the bigger person.

Thanks for what you do as a customer service representative of your organization.

And thanks for what you don’t do – namely throwing your co-worker “under the bus.”

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Let the Customer Decide Where to Share – 6/5/18

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When we work with clients on their Voice of the Customer strategy, there’s obviously a proactive research component included. And while many companies immediately consider a web survey as the sole source of customer feedback, when designing your Voice of the Customer strategy, first think about how your customers would prefer to share their feedback with you.

Some people prefer the face-to-face focus group because they can dialogue with others, and they prefer that personal interaction. Others prefer the web survey that is clickable and quantifiable, and it can be done any time of the day-of-week or time-of-day.

Some prefer the telephone, and not necessarily your calling them – which is becoming more and more rare – it’s also providing opportunity for them to dial into an anonymous conference call or to leave a voicemail for someone with their thoughts and opinions. Consider social media, where many are digitally engaged customers who spend a lot of their time and effort engaging companies through those more new-age methods.

Another benefit of gathering the Voice of the Customer using methods the customer would prefer to share information, is that your results can be biased if you don’t take that approach. What if 50% of your clientele who experience the organization onsite prefer to give the feedback onsite, but all you request is a web survey?

What if you prefer to use focus groups, but the majority of your customers don’t have the time nor inclination to drive somewhere, park, sit in a focus group, and then drive home? What if you preferred to get feedback via social media, but 80% of your clients are rarely on social media except as an observer of others?

To truly and accurately get the voice of your customer, develop a strategy that taps into the communication methods that your clients prefer most.

Let the customer decide where to share.

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Listen Up! – 5/29/18

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When I was growing up, I would hear the phrase Listen Up frequently. It was usually being stated by adults who wanted to get the attention of a group of kids. It was usually stated loudly. It usually worked. At least for a minute or 2.

As an adult in the working world, I now find myself in customer service situations or advising clients on how to create a great customer experience. And while the phrase Listen Up has not lost its importance, it means something different today. Today, in business it relates to what employees should do with co-workers and customers. It suggests that in order for us to really solve a problem or address a need or resolve an issue, we have to be experts at listening.

So, what do experts at listening do most effectively?

They watch to observe and interpret the body language as much as they do the words. I was in a meeting recently where we were discussing certain individuals in the organization, and we were trying to uncover how they felt about a situation; it turns out that most of our conclusions were being driven by the body language they conveyed in meetings when the topics were discussed.

Experts at listening are experts at asking questions. They start with open-ended questions to let the other person share their issue, need, goal, their story or perspective. Then the listener drills down to specifics with close-ended questions to refine their understanding of the situation and the impact of potential solutions.

Listening experts let the other person talk. It seems obvious to say, but how can you listen if you’re doing all the talking? People who are great at listening let the other person talk 70-80% of the time – hearing the other’s perspective and guiding the conversation with those questions asked.

Great listeners are great at paraphrasing. They’ve listened so well that they can pause the conversation and – in their own words – explain the situation, the steps, the goals, and the desires conveyed by the other person. They can translate the body language, tone, the words and emotions of another.

Keep in mind that great listeners are often considered to be great conversationalists because the discussion flows, and the other person gets to share, feels comfortable doing so, and is speaking with someone who has an empathetic ear.

The art of listening is key to great conversations and great customer service.

Listen Up!

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